New words … that should be in the dictionary

Hello.

It’s time to resurrect this blog, so for starters, a few new words for experiences that currently lack them …

Timble(verb) to offer someone a cup of tea which you then instantly forget to make.

This can lead to the double timble, where you hurriedly make the forgotten tea, only to find its intended target has given up waiting and made their own.

Residual Tea Memory or RDM (noun) the practice of being vaguely aware you have an unfinished cup of tea left somewhere in the house or office.

Triphop(verb) to disguise a stumble with a deft piece of footwork, like practicing a half-remembered dance step. Was also once experimental music genre, popularised in Bristol.

Rudehog(noun) an oncoming motorist who fails to acknowledge you’ve stopped to let them through. See also dreamtwerp

Dreamtwerp(noun) A motorist appearing to operate in a parallel universe, unaware of others letting them through, the chaos they cause by not indicating, or the cyclist they’ve almost knocked over

Barkle(verb) to attempt to communicate surreptitiously with a friend or partner by means of a poorly faked cough

Skatle (verb – pronounced “skar-tle”) a dance delivered typically by 40/50something men with fond but hazy memories of 2-Tone. Eg “He skatled so furiously that a wide circle appeared round him on the dancefloor, and Brenda denied all knowledge of the man”

Transigent(adj.) Extremely easy to persuade.

Got some? Let me know yours …

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The journey

The journey
stretches out like an untravelled road
An unread book
A new bed yet to be slept on
A hidden passage yet to be crept
down

The journey
is the thing not the destination
It’s the travelling we anticipate
Like human freight
We like to be moving
We think it’s great

The journey
is in the preparation
and the contemplation
Sometimes the frustration
if the flight’s delayed and
we think how much
we paid

But as a child, the journey means nothing
You just want to be where you’re going to. Now.

(Written for New Beginnings, a Roundabout poetry event at Worthing Library, 28 January 2011)

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Waiting for the gun

Deep breath
First step
Look ahead
Beating heart
Mind set
Ready now
Muscles taut
Nerves sharp
Centre down
Focus in
Waiting
for
the

start

(Written for New Beginnings, a Roundabout poetry event at Worthing Library, 28 January 2011)

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Beginning

Beginning a poem is not a problem.
Finishing it can be more
of an issue.

Sometimes you have to take drastic

(Written for New Beginnings, a Roundabout poetry event at Worthing Library, 28 January 2011)

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First day at school

First day at school
Itchy uniform
That doesn’t quite fit
The smell of mum
replaced by the smell of floor polish
Cabbage
And disinfectant

Fear of
bullies
nasty teachers
food you don’t like
things you can’t do
doing something wrong
being told off
being laughed at

the unknown

Still, what’s the worst that can happen?
You might die horribly
in the crush to get to the toilets
Or be maimed for life
under the vaulting horse
Or have your ears flicked in assembly
by the naughty boy in the row behind
Or be embarrassed by that girl
from next door but one
Or wee under your desk

But hardly any of these happen.
Particularly the death one.

And you learn to cope with some of the others.

That’s what I learned at school.

(Written for New Beginnings, a Roundabout poetry event at Worthing Library, 28 January 2011)

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My top 25 albums from 2010

These are in no particular order, but are all albums that have floated my boat in the last 12 months …

It’s been an excellent year for music and while I can’t claim to have heard everything interesting that’s been released, these 25 cover a fair amount of ground and include some high quality stuff from the worlds of indie, rock, folk, gospel, pop, soul, Americana and electronica.

Many of these are available for download from eMusic.com which I have no qualms about recommending – it’s the best place for discovering new, interesting and often independent label music. Highly recommended.

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
Teen Dream – Beach House
The Age of Adz – Sufjan Stevens
The Promise – Bruce Springsteen
Bang Goes The Knighthood – The Divine Comedy
Life , Death, Love and Freedom – John Mellencamp
I Learned the Hard Way – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monae
Praise and Blame – Tom Jones
It’s What I’m Thinking Part One – Badly Drawn Boy
The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes
Losing Sleep – Edwyn Collins
Go – Jonsi
Magic Chairs – Efterklang
Ship of Light – Husky Rescue
The Winter of Mixed Drinks – Frightened Rabbit
Heaven is Whenever – The Hold Steady
Sleep Mountain – The Kissaway Trail
July Flame – Laura Veirs
Songs for the New Depression – Loudon Wainwright III
Beachcomber’s Windowsill – Stornoway
Forecast – The Old Dance School
High Violet – The National
Pictures – The Len Price 3
The Longshot – Megson

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think – and your recommendations that have passed me by …

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Home (part 1)

It’s the place that you leave
When you no longer cleave
Somewhere you don’t have to achieve
It’s the corner where you grieve

It’s the chorus in your song
You don’t have to be too strong
In the right or in the wrong
It’s the place you belong

You can say that it’s broken
That its rules are unspoken
That its meaning is just token
It’s the sleep from which you’ve never woken

Dorothy says there’s no place like it
It’s near enough that you can bike it
It’s walking distance – you can hike it
It’s a seam of gold if you can strike it

They say it’s where your heart is
You know it’s where your start is
Even if you’ve been to Timbuktu
It’s a place you come back to

29/9/10

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Spamalot – Python silliness is a knowing feast of fun

Theatre Royal, Brighton: Spamalot, starring Marcus Brigstocke, Jodi Prenger and Todd Carty

The word ‘romp’ is probably a bit overused in theatre reviews. But absolutely on the button for this touring production of Spamalot, the stage musical “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, by Eric Idle and John Du Prez.

Knockabout tomfoolery: Jodi Prenger as The Lady of the Lake and Marcus Brigstocke as King Arthur

It’s a hoot from start to finish, and it works for three key reasons: Idle and Du Prez have successfully kept the funniest bits from the Holy Grail film (and wisely chucked in Life of Brian signature song Always Look on the Bright Side of Life); it has some killer tunes and a cast that ham it up with relish and energy.

Marcus Brigstocke does a decent job of being a very British King Arthur, including a much better singing voice than I expected; I’d Do Anything star Jodi Prenger is a loveable comic turn as well as a real belter of a singer; Todd Carty is spot on as the loyal oaf Patsy and the ensemble cast ham, glam and flim-flam their way through the Python silliness with fun and pzazz.

The costumes are great, and the band do a great job in driving the music along, from the oh-so-knowing musical spoof The Song That Goes Like This to the camp disco of His Name is Lancelot, the daftness of He Is Not Dead Yet to the mock grandeur of Find Your Grail.

Choreographer Jenny Arnold deserves a mention for some great set piece routines, where even the silly hoofing holds together, and director Christopher Luscombe keeps the pace going well considering the slightly bitty nature of the storyline.

All in all, it’s a hugely fun show that had the packed first night crowd up on their feet singing and clapping along at the end. It’s very silly in the best Python tradition and leaves you with a smile on your face. You’ll love it.

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The Collected Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund – Part 6

Another tranche of the pertinent observations, daily vicissitudes and culinary intake of Bloomsbury-based bon viveur, amateur sage and bouffant beardie Brandon Cummerbund. (This time in order of appearance)

Pass the gorgonzola, there's a good chap

Cook has crocheted an omelette. I say crocheted as there is clearly a yarn-like substance involved. I say omelette advisedly. Forensics!

Tweezers have been stolen. Mongoose on case, wearing deerstalker. Boot boy has magnifying glass. Botley looking shifty. Something’s afoot

Tweezers located – Botley had used them for cleaning galoshes. Put on half rations and extra hoeing duties. Mongoose rewarded with lemon

House a hive of activity – full of bees. No idea how they got in. Botley claims he was giving them directions and they refused to leave. Pah

Early Brandon tweets will shortly be available in a droll new format you can print out for your own amusement. Shall advise further shortly

Siblings flocking back to homestead for celebration of Mrs C motheringness. Happy days. Botley marking Blithering Sunday. Man’s a witterer

@artistsmakers Gad is old Ullswater still knocking around? Made best banana syllabub this side of Hilary Stretchtwinkle. Give him regards

@artistsmakers Kirkby and I no longer on speaking terms after the mustard and cress incident

Botley in trowel crisis. Boot boy in towel crisis. Mrs C in harmonica crisis (lost). It’s crises Tuesday. Still, sun’s out. Brekkie: muffins

Harmonica fanfare: Cummerbundery: Collected Tweets Vol 1 http://bit.ly/b5ESsg Print and fold your own – spiffing little item via @bookleteer

Cook started collecting engraved ladles. Botley has walls of shed decorated with unusual roadkill. Means well but mad as a whelk sandwich

Artisans of the law called to announce boot boy arrested for malingering. Have engaged arch lawyer Hon. Fandango Battersby. Breakfast: mango

Appears boot boy was trying to add to his shoelace collection. Battersby confident we can get him off on a technicality. Crowd were barefoot

Battersby buys off local custodians. Boot boy sent to Coventry (Aunt Spagbol will sort him out). Botley on decorative hedge clipping course

Temp boot boy being put through paces by Mrs C. Botley has clipped front hedge into Dali’s Last Supper. He says. Can’t see it meself

BC Classifieds: Tannadyce Celeriacs, specialist Scottish grocers, renowned for tatties and turnips. 10% off with the right tartan. Your risk

Unbelievable amount of fluff in the house. Mrs C has been reading chicklit again. Temp boot boy at work on coal scuttle. Cheese: gorgonzola

Mrs C complaint: too much testosterone in house. Cook instructed to use mayonnaise instead. Not sure it will work as a deodorant. Baffling

@artistsmakers Wcster sauce, raw egg, juice of lemon, dash of Tabasco. Whatever you do, don’t drink the blighter. Mixing it should be enough

Tendentious Plug dropped in to borrow some Vietnamese Beaver Cheese. We’d run out. Valet made gazebo out of Sunday papers. Odd talent.

BC Classifieds: Botley Weed Removals, experienced horticulturalists, occasional use of flamethrower notwithstanding. Best you’re insured

Cravat of the day: Paisley. Cheese of the Day: Emmental. Darts throw of day: treble 13. Lunch: Quotidian of flan, Belgian style. Needs must

Botley battening down hatches due to gale. Actually, hadn’t realised we had any hatches. Valet on roof, securing weather vane. Last I looked

Preparing for church en masse. Not Catholic, mind. Mongoose insisting on coming. Could be interesting after last year. Botley muzzled too.

Hullabaloo at Cummerbund Towers: Mrs C playing O Happy Day on the harmonica, bootboy on spoons, valet on string bass, Botley in string vest

Madcap inventor Isoceles Trolleybus popping round for tea with new invention. Quite excited but radiation suits issued to all staff. H&S eh?

Radiation suits justified. Trolleybus proffered portable personal BBQ, which equalled short course in self-immolation. Man’s a menace

Bday shenanigans at BC Towers: cook preparing haddock kebab, bootboy composing spoons concerto, Mrs C dancing with flags. Fearful fuss

Botley clipping hedge into shape of mongoose. Mongoose plotting. Maid sewing commemorative doily. Valet ironing spats. Street party ahoy!

Bongo Twitchbasket has popped round with a bottle of Moet. So we’re all partaking of the fizz. Cheers!

Sound of sizzling bacon and mushrooms a true joy. Not currently experienced however so off to rouse cook with loudhailer and dinner gong

Boot boy discovered yodelling. Botley discovered pickaxe in shed. Mrs C intervened with gag to ensure nature didn’t take its course. Pip pip

Valet has started humming. Sounds like bee in a blanket. Have installed small electric shock delivery system in trouser press to curtail it.

#mybreakfast Devilled kidneys, kidneyed devills, hash browns, brown hash, kedgeree, eggs – poached, scrambled, fried, omeletted, Darjeeling

Election news: Botley preparing to stand on bus ticket (they always leave when he appears), waving sign: ‘gardeners against weeding’. *sigh*

Boot boy offering self as monster raving bootboy candidate; Botley rallying gardeners in shed (all trowels and wellies). It’s getting silly

Spiffy swears he’ll abstain. Can’t think why, it’s not Lent. Doesn’t the blighter know chaps died so he could vote for the wrong fella? Pah

Should have acted on plan to take whole household to Riviera in an airship, impervious to ash. Cook’s curry might have downed it, mind

Taken straw poll of staff: 1 voting for Botley (Botley), 3 unaware election is on, 1 underage (bootboy), cook will vote for 1 with best hair

Cook’s syllabub exploded, leaving deposits of fruit, spices + old newspaper everywhere. Travel from kitchen hazardous. Low trolley service

BC Classifieds: EasyBarrow Travel Service (Proprietor: Botley Snr) – travel by wheelbarrow. Planet friendly, quite clean, hand luggage only

Mrs C in mad spring-clean. Botley EasyBarrow service in cash crisis (wheels fallen off barrow). Bootboy has lost brushes. Normal service!

Jazz of the day: Dixieland. Chosen cheese: Wensleydale. Red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon. Shaving gel: Palmolive. Polish: Brasso. What ho chaps

Valet off to Spat Ironers Convention. Mrs C busking in Hyde Park (1812 Overture for harmonica). Plan to read paper in pose of studied élan

Fact of the day: dozen tedious chaps at my club invented the 12-bore shotgun. Valet in spat ironing mode, inspired by convention. Tiddly pom

BC Classifieds: Bootboy Pocket Detritus – fluffy sweets, bus tickets, buttons, useless coins, collar studs, nuts, 30p a bag. If you must

Polished my kneecaps; gargled with jelly; tickled a Chelsea Pensioner; saluted a tramp; sauteed an artichoke #ThingsIAintDoneYet

Holy mackerel! Cook has gone the whole hog and reinvented herself as a woman. Bootboy needed smelling salts. Restraining order on Botley

Birthday hallooo to Wokwok Tahoomey, Ickly Toastbangle, Moravia Chisel Blowpatch Mudsprocket, Beluga Crouchgarter, and Baloney Trouserquiz

Whole household has voted and decreed bootboy Postmaster General, Botley Environmental Gofer, valet Home Secretary (ironing) – secret ballot

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Mark Watson: funny stuff that makes you think

Brighton Festival Fringe, Royal Albion Hotel: Mark Watson

It was a rare treat – and unbelievable value – to catch comedian Mark Watson in action road-testing new material for his forthcoming Do I Know You? tour at the Five Pound Fringe.

Mark Watson: thinking out loud for our entertainment. Photo: Dan Thompson

Watson’s late inclusion didn’t make the festival programme and was publicised mainly via social networking sites, but even so it was a surprise there were some empty seats in the intimate room at the Royal Albion for a real comic off the telly.

The lanky Bristolian’s stock in trade is self-deprecating insecurity, and his observations on fatherhood, making your life count for something, and the ups and downs of life as a touring comedian kept the crowd highly entertained during his 60-minute show.

He’s a fast talker, and at times his material could have done with a little less pace but I suspect it’s partly the nervousness of a man still working with his material, coupled with a brain that is always thinking furiously, while his delivery tries to catch up.

Watson’s comedy is intelligent and questioning, always probing behind the way we behave as human beings, and looking for answers as well as humour. His honest assessment of his TV ad campaign with Magners – and the flak he received from fans – showed the pressures and expectations of a working comedian trying to earn a living, but was a hoot as well.

A veteran of more than a dozen Edinburgh Festival shows, Watson at 30 is fast becoming one of our most inventive and entertaining observational stand-ups – I’d strongly recommend catching him when he’s back in Brighton at The Dome on 20 October (tickets are available at http://www.brightondome.org/)

You’ll also find more on Mark at www.markwatsonthecomedian.com and book tickets for comedy for just a fiver at www.fivepoundfringe.com

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Signs that made me smile

An occasional series – daft signs pictured on my travels …

Sometimes fruit and vegetable shop owners get a bit confused ...

Loved this one from Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall, London. It's the combination of a rather British threat warning ("Danger! You may be about to be attacked!") with everyday politeness ("Thank you - do carry on with your business"). Classic.

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Jus’ Like That – Tommy Cooper show does the trick

The Hawth, Crawley: Jus’ Like That with Clive Mantle and Carla Mendonca

It took a while to get the audience going in this warm-hearted tribute show to comedy legend Tommy Cooper, but by the end Clive Mantle had them where he wanted them – laughing uproariously.

Clive Mantle as Tommy Cooper

Mantle is best known for his role as Simon Horton in The Vicar of Dibley, as well as regular appearance sin Casualty and Holby City.

When he first walked on, after the usual ‘business’ finding his way through the timeless red velvet curtain, my first reaction to his take on the bumbling conjuror was ‘that’s not him’. But by the end of the show, I was simply watching Tommy.

The mannerisms, the bumbling patter, those sudden elegant balletic gestures, and that infectious chuckle were all spot on and reminded us of a character who really didn’t need to do much to get a laugh – he simply was funny in himself.

Part one of the show was Tommy’s stage act, complete with highly skilled tricks made to look fluffed (Mantle was coached by magician Geoffrey Durham, aka The Great Soprendo), the usual stream of daft one-liners (including a few pinched rather knowingly from contemporary stand-up Tim Vine) and constant whispered conversations with backstage staff.

After the interval, Mantle and Carla Mendonca (playing his mistress and stage manager Mary) took us backstage to get an insight into the tears of a clown: the often lugubrious Cooper with a drink problem and a handful of pills to get him through. Post war he was doing 52 shows a week at The Windmill Theatre but still suffered with terrible stage fright.

His final appearance – a live TV show entitled Live From Her Majesty’s – was re-enacted (Cooper died from a heart attack in the middle of his act) and the final section had a bemused but Tommy arriving in heaven clad in a white tuxedo for a playful finale around a white piano with Carla Mendonca as his angelic accompanist.

It’s a great show (written by John Fisher and directed by Patrick Ryecart) that recaptures both the magic of one of Britain’s legendary funny men – and the price he had to pay to achieve it. See it.

Jus’ Like That is touring all over the UK until mid-June, including Worthing Pavilion on 21 May. Full details are at http://juslikethat.co.uk

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10 election pledges I’d vote for

1 No gargling after 7.30am
2 All root vegetables served with dinner to be carved into amusing shapes
3 Hat doffing classes available as part of adult education
4 No hopping on Bank Holidays
5 Cashpoint screens to also offer Space Invaders
6 All cars to be made amphibious by 2015
7 Football managers made to learn English as an obligatory second language
8 Thwacking balloons with rolled up newspaper to be an Olympic sport
9 Tax concessions for cheese restaurants
10 On the spot fines for people who smirk on public transport

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Sprung

Written for Spring Poetry at Worthing Library on 26 March 2010

Sprung

Spring?
Sprung
MPs?
Bung
Trapeze artist?
Highly strung
Honey trap?
Spies stung
Silage company opens Chinese restaurant
Hoo Flung Dung
Bring and Buy?
What have you brung?
New jeans,  no hips
Low slung

Spring?
It’s a sneaky thing
Crocuses first then the daffs came late
It’s a melody we love to sing
but it’s sung

Ding dong
ping pong
Spring
has
sprung

25 March 2010

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Genius and silliness from the original urban spaceman

Neil Innes: A People’s Guide to World Domination – The Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham

Neil Innes is charm personified, and a delightful entertainer. He’s also a bit of a musical genius, although much of that has been hidden over the years by the consummate silliness of much of his output.

Neil Innes - nice guitar, but someone has stolen his shoes and socks

His pretty much two-hour show at Shoreham’s intimate Ropetackle Centre was a reminder that while much of his stuff is gentle satire and musical parody, he has a genius for hummable tunes and sharp, witty lyrics.

Billed as A People’s Guide to World Domination, Innes’ show amiably ambled through his 45-year career from the jazz nonsense of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (Urban Spaceman, My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies etc) to Monty Python (Brave Sir Robin from Monty Python and The Holy Grail, plus Run Away – one song that landed on the cutting room floor), The Rutles (a glorious medley of Fab Four spoof numbers including Doubleback Alley and Cheese & Onions) and TV’s Innes’ Book of Records.

He spun stories from the past, dropped some cheerful one-liners into the mix, and moved from a variety of guitars/ukulele to keyboard and back. The odd mistake, duff chord and forgotten lyric just added to the charm and he easily had a mature crowd joining in and doing impromptu Mexican waves.

More modern songs like Real World (about being a silver surfer), the cheerful reggae You’re Never Alone At The Bottom of The Pile, the silly rebelliousness of Ego Warriors and the call-and-response gospel spoof Slaves of Freedom demonstrated he still has a decent voice, and touching encore How Sweet To Be An Idiot was a fitting tribute to his mix of innocence, tunefulness and joy.

An enduring and original talent – still going strong at 65. Catch him while you can – you won’t be disappointed.

Check out http://www.neilinnes.org/

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I have been inside the corridors of power

I have been inside
the corridors of power.
And they are more often
rooms
with chairs and a table
in them.

Often they are used by
ordinary people
who have ended up there
by accident.
Or design.
Or votes.
Or something.

They probably don’t wake up
and say to their loved ones:
“today I am going to
my usual place
in the corridors of power”.

They say: “I am going to work”.

And so the exercise of power
is broken down into a thousand
small things
like phone calls
typing words
and running out of paper clips.

At night the corridors of power
echo to the sound of vacuuming,
because the cleaners are in.

They make sure the corridors
(and rooms) of power are
not covered in dust.
Because that reminds the
people who work in
the corridors (and rooms) of power
of what they will
ultimately become.

The corridors (and rooms)
of power can get a bit
lonely
sometimes.

But there is always
dust
for
company.

10 March 2010

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The Collected Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, Pt 5

The latest spiffing tweets of Edwardian cake collector and wit Brandon Cummerbund. To experience these in true chronological order, please read from the bottom up.

And nerve seeing as her harmonica wailings have sounded like jalope running over concertina on a wet Wednesday

His nibs, pictured with as much gravitas as he can locate from behind the drinks cabinet

It's never a dull moment at Brandon Towers. Unless cousin Cedric brings his matchstick collection round

Gargled I Left My Heart In San Francisco this morning. Splendid sound but only slightly spoiled by Mrs C making dog howling noises. Cheek.

Planning b’day outing. Inviting: Spiffy Glockenspiel, Prendergast Hitchgirdle, Whiskers Flannel, Glazeme Senseless, Spaghetti Eastern. Jolly

Boot boy playing bongos. Mrs C at bingo. Spiffy round to borrow wonga. Waltzing Mebuilder in Congo. Vowel-based plot suspected.

Thought I’d heard yodelling but turned out to be mongoose doing Tarzan impression. Stranger things have happened in our house. Lunch ahoy!

Catching jalope into town with Bishop Dr Rev Canon Waltzing Mebuilder for game of tic-tac, oxtail soup and some booing. Yes – House of Lords

Mrs C excited that yeast company now producing stronger version of gakk-tasting salty spread. Boot boy has used it instead of polish. Ahem.

Mrs C would like to welcome any recent followers. Glasses are raised, nibbles have been served and oompah band will be along shortly. Cheers

Cook is making boot boy drink milk to flush out effects of Brasso. He’s complaining bitterly. Well, it is mongoose milk. Off for a gargle!

Made mistake of letting boot boy loose with Brasso. Chump drank whole bottle. Now shining pipes with tongue. Coming up a treat. Silly boy.

Galoshes. Sou’wester. Brolly. Stout stick. Fisherman’s Friends. Am leaving house in search of a newspaper. May be some time. Onwards!

Flappertrunk popped back for salt, to go with lemon. Either a late pancake beanfeast or the lad’s bagged some tequila. Mrs C wailing in E

Caught valet using trouser press to prepare flowers for his botany collection. Stern words. Dingly Flappertrunk popped in to borrow lemon

Ran out of snuff. Went out through cellar, via boot boy’s pomade collection. Met Mrs C at crossroads. Had sold pocket watch, not soul. Wise

Worried Mrs C will start loitering with blues types. Have whipped up odd reasons to stop her leaving house. And Botley has nailed door up

Plangent tones of the harmonica drift up from cellar where Mrs C has been sent to practice. Just worried it will turn my Sauvignon to Ribena

Pigeons making dickens of a racket this morning. Seem to be muttering something about Tiny Tim. Maybe because cook is chasing them for a pie

Distinctly heard ‘choose any card, memorise it, then put it back’. Bally mind’s playing tricks on me

Rum do at the Smeringtons last night. Whisky chaser at the Glockenspiels tonight. Well, it’s National Spirits Week. Breakfast: Pilchards

Woke up this morning and some wag has replaced all m’shoelaces with licquorice, and all Botley’s braces with pasta strips. Culinary burglars

Local constabulary have lugged Botley home. Have left him in potting shed. Band now features mongoose on percussion, and valet on vocals

Mrs C getting hang of blues in E. Boot boy’s spoons need work. Botley has explored 12-bar workouts, but is stuck in ninth bar in Soho. Chump

We think Jenson Button has just been in and bought 12 cupcakes! (via @ParklifeCakery) Splendid move from the F1 champ – well done that man!

Throat velvet session this evening with Count Slowly Basil, Spiffy Glockenspiel, Nosferatu Bunting and Mims Flippertijibbet. Mayhem ensues

Surprise development: Mrs C has gone for harmonica. Expect boot boy on spoons, Botley on tea chest bass and self on Gibson 335. Cook nervy

Contacted all music shops in 10-mile radius, warning against Mrs C’s attempt on flugelhorn, in the interests of music. Comb n paper m’dear

Grocers delivering today. Mrs C in search of flugelhorn. Not even sure what a flugel is. Household in search of earplugs. Breakfast: kipper

@Jamiehailstone Nobody who is anybody is wearing frosted glass bifocals these days, old bean. Should’ve gone to jolly old Specsavers

All taxidermy-related items now cleared out. Mrs C wants new hobby: embroidery or learning the flugelhorn. You might guess which we prefer

Uncle Monty now removed to medical school curiosities museum. Mrs C had row with other local taxidermists and told them to stuff it. Ironic

Have also discovered stuffed Uncle Monty in glass case. Not entirely sure how long this has been here. Worrying.

SOS – am locked in cupboard under stairs. Mrs C has local taxidermy group round for buns. Thinks I would keep interrupting. Upside: peaceful

Grocers have delivered all wrong comestibles: herring instead of haddock; artichoke instead of asparagus; piglets not twiglets. Cook fuming

Breakfast: kedgeree, plodgeree and bodgeree. Appears snow is attempting a comeback. Have sent Botley out to repel blighter with hoe. Pull!

Composing love poem. Addressed to slice of cake. Mrs C may not understand. Valet strangely still. May have to ban taxidermy. Staff uneasy.

Have questioned Mrs C closely regarding large albatross occupying parlour. Need to find her supplier. Hai Ti celebrated with lemon drizzle

Is there food in your beard? Good advice for Brandon’s facial topiary http://bit.ly/cnuW7a

Gad, am so tired could sleep for England. If selected.

Need a steam bath. Mrs C can get up steam without a bath. Boot boy has new yo-yo. Cook has new Swiss ladle called a yodel. Expecting fondue

Spiffy Glockenspiel has promised to buy me a Jeraboam once I reach 100 followers. Can you blighters get the word out? Snuff all round if so!

Experimenting with French cheese with aspirations to be Camembert. Honey is involved. Though I warned her against it. Breakfast: diced pear

Face in better shape. Discovered owl in wardrobe. Botley has taken up bonsai marathon running – 26 yards is quite an achievement. Taxi!

Face covered in paper after shaving incident. Emergency services standing by: boot boy has mop, valet spare paper, Mrs C fig poultice. Shop!

Mrs C and cook in tug of war over pigeons bagged by Botley on local ‘shoot’ involving butterfly net and large stick. Pie or stuffing? Evens

All wildlife giving Brandon Towers a wide berth. Must persuade Mrs C to drop this taxidermy nonsense. Even postman looking worried. Vexing.

Taramasalata Flanstippler is drinking my Scotch. Scottie Fling has eaten the taramasalata. And Spiffy’s making omelette. All a bit uncanny

Clump claims rotary washing line being used in his version of Hadron Collider. Likely story. Garden birds gone into hiding. Mrs C to blame!

Voluminous Clump dropped in to borrow rotary washing line. Needed for ‘new invention’. May not get it back. Mrs C practising on sparrows

Hai Ti going well – Madeira has calming effect. Mrs C poring over taxidermy book. Mongoose packing suitcase. Cook practising custard pouring

@artistsmakers Gad! “Shooting into mist and sunset …”? Bag any game – grouse, pheasant, rambler? Botley picks the shot out with his teeth

Education week at Brandon Towers: Mrs C learning taxidermy (mongoose gone into hiding), self learning Hai Ti (Tai Chi with cake). Tally ho

Usual tailor has let me down. Now in need of tweed 3-piece suit for less than a few guineas. All leads gratefully received. Except dog leads

Botley piloting a skiff up and down the garden, due to thaw. Has hopes for Olympics. As likely as BC becoming world champion topiarist.

Tadger McPherson dropped in for a go on cook’s trampoline. Enough to make your eyes water. Left with a bag of figs and Botley’s bazouki. Odd

Grocers not delivering until Saturday due to weather. Lightweights. Shall confiscate their bicycle and make them hop. Lunch: walnut compline

Mrs C twitchy as binmen not been. Boot boy twitchy due to medication. Valet twitchy due to tweed ailment. Too much twitchiness all round

@artistsmakers Am told if you feel neurotic and nostalgic at the same time, you end up with neuralgia. Forewarned is forearmed. Onward!

Sampling tasty dark ale left over from Christmas. Botley has started business selling compacted mongoose droppings as grit. Will end badly

Starting to thaw: boot boy now safely removed from window, tongue intact. Mrs C has three less layers on. Or may be New Year diet. Unlikely!

Botley still steaming over US spelling of ‘humour’. May have been working too long at that heap of frozen mongoose compost. Smells like it

Spiffy Glockenspiel says I’m up for an award, named a Shorty, via our Transatlantic cousins. Nothing next to St Bede’s Yodelling Cup, mind

Compulsory cognac breakfast today. Mrs C has knitted mongoose a jacket. Boot boy flicked jelly at window, tried to lick it off. Oh dear …

All staff out shovelling snow. Cook shovelling bread and butter pud. Mrs C filling hot water bottles. Brandon testing hot toddies. Cheers!

Burning Oscar Wilde books to keep warm. Smokeless fuel, full of wit. Botley thinks he’s a wit. Well, he’s half right. Mrs C wearing mittens.

So cold at BT we have mongoose on a treadmill, bootboy burning old copies of Wisden, and cook hatching ferocious curry. Medicinal brandy sir

Cook fuming having discovered real London Eye staged fireworks last night, clearly stealing her culinary masterstroke. Calmed with gin.

Gad! Woken by Botley’s snoring. Why? Ah. Entire rollcall of guests slumbering under giant blanket. Huge Oompah brought marquee down. Parp!

Have cornered mongoose and recovered cognac. Cook buried under pile of meringues. Mrs C rosy cheeked. Oompah band oompahing. Happy New Year!

Meringue London Eye taking shape, not sure about Spiffy’s sparklers idea. Oompah band delayed in traffic. Boot boy has been at the Brasso

NYE doings ahead: cook constructing life-size model of London Eye out of meringue, valet polishing Wurlitzer, Mrs C embroidering marquee

Much joy over England cricket victory. Boot boy playing spoons, valet has ironed my spats, cook planning celebratory syllabub. Yabbadabbadoo

Cook has found Glockenspiel covered in fluff in cupboard under stairs, and Spong has perfect map of Kidderminster tatooed on his head. Odd.

Is it me, or have army of dwarves just painted house silver, and constructed tank out of discarded corks and sprouts? Ah. Glad to hear it.

Seasonal drink with Spiffy Glockenspiel, Twinkle Troutbadger and the Earl of Spong. Jolly time, hope Spiffy isn’t squiffy enough to juggle

Soave. Asti. Cava. Amontillado. Harvey’s. Beck’s. Frascati. All good names for children but somehow remind me of the old throat velvet

Mackerel and smell of fish now gone, thanks to Botley, but Bunting and crew have eaten all the trifle. Received gift of sock garters. Bingo!

Mackerel pushing for scampi in breadcrumbs, PLUS the salmon. Mrs C wavering. Talks paused while Botley ‘persuades’ with trowel and carols

Have called in negotiators looking to strike deal with Mackerel: he vacates house and we give him some salmon in return. Desperate times …

Red alert: Mackerel has somehow snuck into house while Bunting and vampires argued over flag drill. Botley has him cornered in scullery …

@vobes Mucho obligato for the coffee and mince pie today, sir – you must toddle round for tiffin sometime. Cook does a good sticky bun

Mackerel alert: aborted attempt to breach the house as Bunting’s strategy is working: vampires and semaphore going nuts. It’s never dull.

Joke from boot boy: if you let rice get cold enough, you get Ricicles. Have stapled his knees together and cut his Haribo ration. Tough love

Am in the doghouse after suggesting to Mrs C that one way of thawing ice outside would be for her to talk to it. No crumpets for tea now …

Christmas ale now in stock, courtesy of Sebastopol Thundergrass’ extraordinary brewery. Botley swears by their pale ale, so avoid that one

Extraordinary: woke up surrounded entirely by Twiglets. Turns out it’s one of Bunting’s ploys for repelling Mackerel. Breakfast: kedgeree

Cook is concerned at possible ban on garlic though

Gothic local fete organiser Nosferatu Bunting has offered to ward off unwanted relative Mackerel using cunning mix of vampires and semaphore

Boot boy shovelling drive, Botley shovelling grounds, Brandon shovelling porridge. Chiselled cook out of coat with breadknife. Tot required

Gad it’s so cold am considering rolling Botley in peat and shoving him in the Aga

@vobes Splendid – a strong concoction featuring hazelnut would slide down the Cummerbund throat a treat. And one of those Italian biscuits

Hatches now battened re Mackerel’s visit. Move rejected as too costly. Mrs C has flyspray; valet: carpet beater; Botley: hoe. May get messy

Distant cousin Mackerel Flaypasty has sent telegram to say he is coming to stay. Whole household on red alert. May move or hide behind sofa

Hullabaloo brewing re Christmas wrapping paper. Valet has been stuffing it in shoes. Butler summoned. Mrs C on warpath. Have tin helmet on

Spelling is key in the kitchen. Common culinary errors: cuddling an egg, toasting chicken, bowling potatoes, grinning bacon. Cook on warning

Gad! Could be hobnobbing with the politicos at prestigious bash this afternoon. Sadly had to duck out due to waving farewell to Sir Bob Limp

Spangled bollard parked outside conservatory. Could be freeform Christmas tree or discarded piece of nuclear matter from kitchen. Hmmm

Trust bally eye sorts itself out for the morrow. Suggest poultice of figs, cold compress, glass of something warming and a string quartet

Tolly Snitchett popped in for a pinch of snuff. Sniffy Pinchit toddled round for a bottle of pop. Coincidence or conspiracy? You decide …

Botley experiment with fertiliser and cook’s broth prompts major incident. Troops and navy called in, soup sent for tests. Man’s a menace

May dig out some old 78s to drop in to the jolly vinyl swap at Worthing empty shop bazaar The Upmarket http://bit.ly/76Mzi7

Rumours of batty relatives coming at Christmas (Agamemnon Plankton, Hospitality Planks etc). Mongoose returned, singed. Breakfast: trifle

Arividerci Clacton drops in to borrow mongoose. Refuses to elaborate. Mongoose looks alarmed. Ran out of milk. Cook buys goat. Oh dear …

One of me love poems got an outing at bizarre Worthing bazaar The Upmarket. Listen at http://bit.ly/88aJbo for a gem amidst the buffoonery

Out for snifter with pals Glazeme Senseless, Wingnut Poltergeist IV, Prendergast Hitchgirdle, Dave ‘The Nudge’ Cakewalk. Lifeguard alerted

Valet back from A&E but walking strangely. Mongoose grumpy after returning illictly grabbed parrot. Mrs C spotted in sou’wester, galoshes

Brandon love poem likely at Floating Fish Cabaret, Ye John Selden pub, Salvington Rd, Worthing, Thurs 8pm. Entertainment for the desperate

@artistsmakers Better to use paper, surely. You’ll never hang a train on the wall

Valet in A&E after bizarre shove ha’penny accident. Mongoose reprimanded after kidnapping next door’s parrot. Paired socks. Humdrum day, eh?

Am attending evening classes in loofah use. Did not realise you need a licence to wield the things. Cook’s omelette resembled one earlier.

Somewhat strangely, appears I have been abducted by aliens. Lacking necessary paperwork, they have returned me. Am intact, bar braces. Odd.

Have lost 3 days. Woke up under hedge with rubber chicken, bag of walnuts and a lemon. May have been part of mad cooking experiment …

Off for a spree with old pals Bart-Bart uber Dinglestein, Fandango Battersby, Ickly Toastbangle and Hilary Stretchtwinkle. Mrs C worried

Tish, Posh, Piffle, Waffle, and Tosh. Solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths. Taramasalata Fitzgerald, tremendous voice, useful party dip.

Renaming Lords? Preposterous. Like calling The Royal Albert Hall ‘The McGivitty, Flout & Spraingarter Musicality Venue’. Not cricket at all.

Blancmange disaster involving cook, bootboy, mongoose, three spatulas, a tin of pineapple, yesterday’s FT and a stray chicken. Unbelievable

Well pickle me in garlic and stuff me with olives, it’s not raining. Boot boy can come down off the roof with the tarpaulin. Tea: Darjeeling

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Yeasayer get the blood moving in seafront sell-out

Digital, Brighton: Yeasayer

There was something distinctly underground about Yeasayer’s gig at Digital. It was more than the atmospherics provided by the King’s Arches venue, formerly the Zap Club – maybe it was that shared sense of being in on a kind of music that defied categorisation, swooping across boundaries like a gleeful swallow.

Chris Keating and Ira Wolf Tuton in action

Showcasing material from their 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals and plenty from new release Odd Blood, the band struck an immediate rapport with the crowd, that had lead singer Chris Keating bantering with the front row and bigging up local cult eaterie Bill’s.

Yeasayer’s music is propelled by the precise, tight drumming of Ahmed Gallab, coupled with the sinewy bass of Ira Wolf Tuton, and the foundation these two lay down that allows the music to hop from electro-rock to dub, from psychedelic wigout to gospel-style chants.

Chris Keating provides a charismatic front man, all waving hands and jerking torso snaps one minute, minutely adjusting his box of tricks the next. Standing where we were, guitarist Anand Wilder was a hidden voice and presence, but the effect of the whole was electrifying and at times hypnotic.

The harmonised and at times almost falsetto chanted choruses on some songs tipped Yeasayer towards Polyphonic Spree and even Fleet Foxes territory, but just when the pop idiom threatened to take over, something left field popped up and dragged it back to the edge. A good place to be.

Inevitably, the well-loved Sunrise was part of the encore (“we don’t usually do encores”) and the sold-out crowd drifted out onto the seafront with smiles on their faces. One solid bass note went through my entire body – now and again it’s the kind of therapy you need.

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There is a place

This is a poem of pain and hope for the heavy-hearted …

There is a place
where the wind
will not go.
A space
where the gale
will not blow.
And the hurricane
curls up like a ball
and hides.

There is a time
which the dread
cannot invade.
A moment
where you
need not be afraid.
Where terror
sucks its thumb
and rocks.

There is a gaze
which you can
never escape.
A drive where
your life is
on tape.
A love that
cradles the pain
and heals.

Seek it.

14 January 2010

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A bit of a slip

After a nightmare weekend of snow and ice, following more than 120 people admitted to A&E in Worthing after falling on ungritted pavements, this poem is dedicated to the local council – who fell flat on their faces ….

Slip sliding away
sang Paul Simon
Who was not, as it happens,
talking about snow
and ice and slush
and how local councils
take our money
and then don’t grit
the pavements.

He was, however,
lyrical and precise
and harmonious
like weather that chimes
so much with the
season it seems
custom designed.

Skating away
on the thin ice of a new day
sang Jethro Tull,
although as Ian Anderson
said from the stage
recently
the lyric has turned out
in retrospect
to be complete cobblers

Based as it was on the
theory that we were about
to enter the next ice age.
Mind you, if local councils
believed that
we might at least
get enough grit
to stay upright.
And certain councillors
would be worth
their salt.

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I thought I was going to explode

As the small child with eyes wide saw the presents awaiting
I thought I was going to explode

As the magi with star sat-nav seeking a king
I thought I was going to explode

As department store Santa all vetted and padded
I thought I was going to explode

As a girl giving birth to the fulcrum of history
I thought I was going to explode

As the glutton with a feast stuffed in my quivering belly
I thought I was going to explode

As a shepherd with angels trumpeting across the sky
I thought I was going to explode

As the muzak jingles on and strips out all the meaning
I thought I was going to explode

On patrol in Helmand province one step from a bomber
I’m just hoping to be home for Christmas

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Festive

This has been written for the Christmas poetry gathering at Worthing Library on Friday 11 December 12 noon …

Festive
Festive digestive
A biscuit with a seasonal theme
An olfactory Pandora’s box
A sweet-toothed boy’s dream …
… but not a custard cream

Festive
Festive yet overly suggestive
The cheap and tacky Christmas card
That tries to be funny but tries too hard
Words certainly not penned by a bard
(the exclamation mark is a hint – you’re meant to laugh at this bit …)
Don’t give it to auntie, you’ll leave her scarred

Festive
Festive but … arrested
The office party dressed as Santa’s elf
The seasonal pub crawl arranged by stealth
‘Go on – it’s Christmas!’ ‘ But it’s bad for me health …’
Honest officer, I didn’t think it would break …
Now I didn’t think celebrations would cripple me wealth

Festive
Festivity nativity
The biggest star in the universe
For the biggest birth in the universe
The celebrations go on for weeks
But the birthday boy often gets forgotten

So here it is merry Christmas everybody’s havin’ fun
‘Doctor, I’m suffering from overload on an empty commercial beanfeast
that seems to have forgotten what it’s for’
‘A simple diagnosis – you’re suffering from tinselitis’

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Live poetry set at The Upmarket, Worthing 29/11/09

Featuring a lot of recent poems from this blog, this was recorded for the legendary Vobes podcast, presented by Richard Vobes, usually from his Worthing beach hut, but this time as part of Empty Shops Radio …esr-russ-live

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The Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, Pt 4

brandoncummerbund

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, a compost heap, Botley, unless thou get the shrubbery cut back.

Coriander Fitzshertbert called to borrow gramophone. Baboon in cellar. I have quick toe count: still all there. Recital today. Must gargle.

Baboon squatting for monkey rights. Have called cousin Bertie who has blunderbuss. Hailing outside. More taxis than usual. Breakfast: kidney

Cook still sulking over quiche rejection. Muffins like rock cakes. Rock cakes like meteorites. Mrs C using reinforced false teeth. Temp: icy

Coriander Fitzshertbert called to borrow gramophone. Baboon in cellar. I have quick toe count: still all there. Recital today. Must gargle.

Baboon squatting for monkey rights. Have called cousin Bertie who has blunderbuss. Hailing outside. More taxis than usual. Breakfast: kidney

Bertie has adopted baboon, and lent me blunderbuss. Botley suddenly showing respect. Ukulele session later. Mrs C has earplugs in. Hippityho

By Jingo! Have been selected for Bloomsbury Quoits second team. Must buy new jodphurs and tub of wax for grip. Supper: braised haddock tails

Taramasalata. Salsa. Gentlemen’s Relish. Hummous. Tzatziki. Tabasco. HP. Piccalilli. Some of the dips and sauces I have tried with toast …

Hobbledehoy attempts to steal Mrs C’s handkerchief. I see him off with a thwack of me cane. Suspect Fagin’s mob. Breakfast: waffle, sausage

Valet gone to whittling workshop. Cook bottling plums. Mongoose scuttling about. Butler buttling. Boot boy sprattling, he says. He’s fibbing

Botley planning severe hackage of garden tomorrow. May not see him for days. Champagne on ice. Supreme gargle this morning. Tea: lapsang.

Gad, Botley roped in gang of labourers to chainsaw the foliage. Now can see the wood for the trees. Rumours of lost tribe in garden shed.

Tasty dish with squash and risotto proffered by cook this evening. Mongoose sulking again over paw-paw allowance. Chocolate: Green&Blacks70%

Friday looming large and hairy, although could be cook in bad light. Where is cheese? Do chickens snore? What is Botley? Mysteries, all

Chum Archipelago de Cuella chuffed about Olympics in Rio. May take a steamer over. Brazil’s footballers should be made to play 3-legged mind

The oranges of my aunt are in the basket. Here is Father. The monkeys have eaten all the cheese. Why am I reading a French textbook? Bouf!

Glad to have travelled up to one of our foremost metropoli by steam chariot. Enjoyed a book charting history of gramophone record. Chachacha

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, a compost heap, Botley, unless thou get the shrubbery cut back. Poetic justice. Dinner in Pinner

Pass the marmalade, Terence. Chum Monty the Monk suffering from tonsuritis. Valet has limp. Mongoose looks shifty. See http://bit.ly/4rHZFv

Stiff neck from too much craning. Boot boy afternoon off for football. Mongoose toenail clipping day. Going out. May be some time. Toodlepip

Mongoose clipped. Police were called after neighbours complained. Mrs C just wanders round gibbering. No change there. Breakfast: quail eggs

Mushrooms on toast. Cheese on toast. Scrambled eggs on toast. Bacon. Sausage. Devilled kidneys. Potato cakes. Just wanted others to salivate

Toasting fork missing. Butler looking shifty. Always looks shifty. Born shifty. Botley looks like hamster. Marshmallows located. Plot afoot!

Tallulah Boomdeay calling round to borrow lemon. Sparrows have been pecking the milk. Must clear ‘em out of fridge. Breakfast: zabaglioni

The Boll Weevil (aka next door’s cat) is on back lawn. Botley poised with hoe. Mongoose behind shrubbery. Self in easy chair with binoculars

RSPCA called after Boll Weevil hooha. Mongoose unrepentant. Boot boy has drawn rough sketch. Next door making threats. Weather: sunny spells

Mashie niblick playing up today. Jiggerypokery on the links. Caddie reprimanded. Snifter at 9th. Crofter at 12th. Afters at 19th. Tiddlypom

Mrs C and I exchanged lobsters, as custom on nuptials anniversary. Cook promising fatted calf. Mongoose worried. Breakfast: mango souffle

Awoken by belching mongoose. Not recommended. Birds tweeting. Cook puffing. Valet brushing lapels. Boot boy polishing. Mrs C snoring. Ho hum

Stoke Poges. Cleethorpes. Upper Witherington. Nadgers Bottom. Twistlefield. All places Mrs C & self have holidayed. None we’d revisit. Humph

Top suppliers: Tosh & Piffle, solicitors and commissioners for oaths; Spatchcock and Batley, fishmongers; Twaddle, bakers. Ying tong ipo

Couldn’t find toaster this morning. Turns out it’s his day off. Pah!

Electrickery chap came yesterday and replaced things, fiddled with bits and bobs and charged a King’s ransom. Still, all now hunky dory

Envisaging some foraging next week. Unsure where to take Mrs C since rest of household absconding. Only Splinge is coming. Suggestions?

Caught Botley eating Gentleman’s Relish. Severely reprimanded. Also reminded he is not a gentleman. Mrs C says I am harsh. Refuse to kowtow.

Tintinabulists bonging merrily today. Mongoose ponging, must get Botley to hose down. Must ask vicar if he’s going to Rome. Cook needs pasta 8:41 AM Oct 25th from web

Vicar not going to Rome, so cook sent out for pasta. Boot boy on day’s training at St Pancras. Breakfast: grilled kipper. Weather: hopeful

Cook alarmed to discover new trend in eating places: http://bit.ly/2gwXaG Boot boy went and ate half his weight in beans. Mongoose in trauma

Off to market today in search of mothballs for mongoose (don’t ask). Am taking pith helmet and stout stick to fend off ne’er do wells. O yes

Marscapone and he won’t know where he’s going. Survived market and mongoose now happily crunching mothballs (don’t ask). Breakfast: anchovy

Algernon Parp-Stratley gone to India to find himself. Wasn’t aware he’d gone missing. Will leave a gin sling in the window. Tweed: Harris

Attending nuptials tomorrow. Best bib and tucker. Here comes the bride. Mrs C refuses to wear hat. Ridiculous. Shall sing with gusto, dammit

Brolly? Top hat? Overcoat? Sou’wester? Spats? Breeches? Plus fours? Fedora? Cane? Smoking jacket? Waistcoat? All good if playing Scrabble

Gad, mad 11-tweets at once woman is at it again. Considering not feeding mongoose for a week then sending him to her in a parcel. Tiddly pom

Cook ill. Rest of household holding its breath. Botley staying in shed. Bootboy in cupboard under stairs. Mongoose in box. Breakfast: toast

Mrs C applying Venezuelan back massage. Requires Wellies, a cricket bat and three litres of treacle. It could get nasty. But does the trick.

Back still a bit dicky. Suspect Mrs C used wrong sort of treacle. Mongoose will not come within 10 feet. Botley spotted with fly spray. Pah!

Back improving, front so-so, sides splendid. Boot boy practicing polishing. Valet ironing. Botley hoeing. Mongoose yodelling. Eggs: coddled

Shall have to call tradesman again. Sprocket is broken on thingummy. Boot boy looks guilty. Mongoose looks innocent. Looks can be deceiving

Plimpley Brothers coming to tinker with the Aga. Aga Khan coming to tinkle on the Steinway. Mongoose ticked off for tinkling on cook. Ahem.

Botley to creosote the trellis. Expect mayhem to ensue. Cook in search of maraschino cherries. Invented cereal that cleans teeth: Flossties

Trimming my portmanteau today. Spats sent to be ironed. Collar studs being defettled. Shoelaces waxed. Hats starched. Cologne: pungent

Butler sent to get umbrellas repaired. Excessive downpour damaged spokes. (Spokes is our umbrella carrier, now receiving treatment). Hum.

Reliquary. Tonsorial. Tintinabulists. Mulligatawney. Agamemnon. Paganini. Plangent. Interlocutary. Wallamaloo. Just trying out new teeth.

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Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

Chichester Festival Theatre: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

An interestingly mixed crowd of older and younger Goons fans filled much of the Festival Theatre on Thursday night for Bristol Old Vic’s sparky production of Spike Milligan’s classic war memoir.

Adapted for the stage by Ben Power and Tim Carroll, it was a strong mix of knockabout bawdy barrack room humour, Milligan’s surreal yet poignant story-telling and some classy jazz numbers from the Forties.

A talented cast, led by Sholto Morgan as Milligan, did an excellent job in a show that mixed a mock ENSA show for the troops, direct excerpts from the book, and vignettes that captured superbly the gallows humour, humanity and tragic sacrifice of wartime.

As co-adapter Ben Power writes in his programme notes, the show’s spontaneity and looseness owes as much to the ragged nature of Spike’s surreal writing as the way the action has been put together, and mirrors the freeform nature of the jazz Spike loved to play as lead trumpeter.

Giving sterling support to Sholto, as the boys of Battery D, were Dominic Gerrard (Edgington), William Findley (Goldsmith), David Morley Hale (Kidgell) and Matthew Devereux (MC), and they delivered some superb instrumental and vocal performances, handling piano, drums, saxophone, double bass, guitar and trumpet between them.

A fun night that will have prompted many an audience member to dig out those old paperbacks again, and revel in the tortured genius of Milliganism.

Ends Saturday night (24 October) before travelling to Watford, Liverpool and Nottingham. More at www.spikeswar.com

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Review: Oli Brown Band, Worthing Assembly Hall

Oli Brown Band – Worthing Assembly Hall

It’s an irony that in a genre where artists get better the older they are, blues newcomer Oli Brown is turning heads while still in his teens.

Oli’s power-packed three piece – the Oli Brown Band – delivered a powerful set at Worthing Assembly Hall last night, although it was really the wrong kind of venue for this stage in his career.

Oli Brown Band on stage in Worthing

A crowd of less than 150, spread thinly around the auditorium at tables, mustered plenty of enthusiasm, but what you really wanted was a smaller, intimate club atmosphere with sweat running down the walls.

Much of material the centred around the band’s highly acclaimed 2008 debut album Open Road, with a few blues classics such as Every Day I Have The Blues and Black Betty thrown in for good measure.

Inevitably it was Oli’s blend of powerful, mature vocals and guitar heroics that dominated. Tall, thin and with a shock of shoulder-length black hair, he was a charismatic focal point, strolling around the stage playing with the casual insouciance of a veteran. Astonishing, considering he’s only been playing the instrument for seven years.

Style-wise, there were shades of Stevie Ray Vaughan in his fluid, melodic runs, and other blues masters such as BB King and Buddy Guy (the band delivered a blistering version of his Steppin’ Out, Steppin’ In), as he cranked up the tone and the drama. At times on the slower numbers his jazz-inflected tones even touched on the likes of Joe Pass and a guitar version of Oscar Peterson.

Freddie Hollis on 6-string bass was a rock solid rhythm unit with quality drummer Simon Dring, and the pair added welcome harmony vocal back-up at times, as well as having their own solo slot to show off their virtuosity.

Standouts included album opener Psycho, the rocking title track Open Road and an impassioned Stone Cold (Roxanne) which had Oli yelling his vocal refrain sans mic to the back of the hall.

When during the encore the young guitarist sauntered out among the crowd to solo at length and up close, it was just a reminder of how blues can connect at gut level. The future’s bright for this power trio. They’re great now – give them time (and they’ve got plenty) and their potential is frightening …

Further dates lined up in the south east:

4 Dec – The West Coast Live, Margate
5 – Wingspan Club, Crawley
9 – Plaza Suite, Sevenoaks
10 – The Maltings, Farnham
15 – The Brook, Southampton
16 – The Jazz Cafe, London

More at www.oliselectricblues.co.uk

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Rusty spade

It’s National Poetry Day
And I have not, so far, written anything poetic.

However
Maybe I have said something of a poetic nature
to someone.

Thinking about it, I’d consider that unlikely.

It’s possible there might have been
an action
a glance
or a thought
that might be considered
in some way lyrical.

To be honest, it’s not been that poetic a day.

But it’s National Poetry Day,
so I’m writing this.

Which may not be much compensation
for today’s poetic vacuum.

But it’s the best I can come up with.

Some days words are your paint
your instrument
and the love of the universe coiled in sound.

Other days, they’re a heavy, slightly rusty spade
that doesn’t really do the job.

This was one of those days.
Hey-ho.

8 October 2009

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Quality street

God save the Queen
and quad bikes
and quadrilateral triangles
and quadratic equations
and quadrophonic hifi
and quince
and quills
and quelling rebellions
and quaffing ale
and quenching thirst
and quail
and quibbling
and Quality Street
and querrulousness
and quacking
and Quavers
and quangos
and quorn
and quickness
and quivering
and quotable quotes
and quorums
and quips
and queries
and Quakers
and quoits

and even Kwikfit fitters
(despite the spelling)
because there’s something
about ‘kwa …’
that drives me
quazy

17 September 2009

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Stop w(h)ining …

It’s communion, Jim, but not as we know it
The bread is still there but the wine has now gone
Official instructions are rather hotchpotch
The wine’s for the vicar, and we get to watch

While we worship the Lord with hymns loud and anthemic
The bishops are worried we’re spreading pandemic
We don’t all want swine flu, it’s a pig of a bug
So don’t you dare kiss in the Peace, or go hug
Handshakes are dangerous, so make do with a shrug

Never mind that the Bibles are passed hand to hand
Why the chairs haven’t been swabbed, I don’t understand
And then there’s the newssheets and door handles too
All viable ways to share in the flu

If it gets too much worse they may make us stay home
And watch Songs of Praise till we’re blue in the face
So let’s give them one big liturgical groan
We’ve had it with law so let’s hear it for grace

Next we’ll have Britain’s Got Swine Flu
with Cat Deeley
Maybe it’s just a plot to stop church
getting too touchy feely

August 2009

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There is a first time for everything

There is a first time for everything
Everything has a first time
Is time a first – for everything?
Time: first there is everything
Everything first, for there is time
A time is for everything, first
First time – there is everything
Everything time. Is there a first?

This poem has been sentenced
To death.

17 September 2009

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Untitled

Tony Blair
Tony Benn
Tony Booth

Toni Basil
Tony Bennett
Tony Jacklin

Toe knee
Knee toe
Rigatoni

Woolly jumper – overtones
Halfwits – semitones
Feargal Sharkey – Undertones

Old school – sepia tones
Old tech – Binatone
Old amp – tone dial

Steady drone – monotone
Reedy drone – Casiotone

Tony Hancock
Tinny tannoy makes Kiri Ti Kanawa sound like Tiny Tim

This has been a Tone poem

17 September 2009

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Anish Kapoor – Royal Academy of Arts

Svayambh – red wax monster shaped by the building

Svayambh – red wax monster shaped by the building

Royal Academy of Arts: Anish Kapoor (Exhibition 26 September – 11 December, 10am-6pm, Fridays 9.30pm)

Wandering around the press preview of this major solo exhibition by 1991 Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor, I couldn’t help but be struck by the sheer sense of fun this influential sculptor encapsulates in his work.

Rather than try to tease out ‘meaning’ from each piece – a mix of new work and previously unseen items – I just found myself delighting in the physical appeal of each one, and the way they made me think about them.

First up is the monumental Hive (2009), built in a shipyard in Holland using Corten steel. It impacts you immediately as you stare into its hidden depths, and then walk round what for all the world seems like an alien submarine, left to rust on a distant, abandoned planet.

Greyman Cries etc - serious playdo, this

Greyman Cries etc - serious playdo, this

Gallery two yields the enigmatically titled Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked (2008-9), consisting of dozens of pallets piled high with cement sculptures generated via a computer-controlled three-dimensional printer. The result is a mix of almost fossilised geological strata plus dinosaur poo put through a mincer. You want to grab a handful of it – it looks fantastic fun created by grown-ups let loose with a vat of modelling clay.

The writhing marble monster Slug (2009) seems almost alive, contrasting a sinewy intestinal feel with a towering female organ in an unlikely metallic red.

Non-object (wall) - concave reflections

Non-object (wall) - concave reflections

There’s a fascinating gallery of ‘non-objects‘ full of concave mirrors throwing back distorted and often upside down reflections. Shiny chrome always brings out the magpie in all of us, and Kapoor maybe asks us how we appear to others compared to how we see ourselves with this cavalcade of end of the pier distortions.

A gallery of Pigment works flings deeply coloured geometric shapes at us, tempered with a powder sprayed almost soft texture, and including the wonderful When I am Pregnant (1992), a swelling bump that pops out seamlessly from the white walls, playing tricks with the light.

Yellow - you might just dive in and disappear

Yellow - you might just dive in and disappear

Piece de resistance when it comes to impact for me was the awesome Yellow (1999) – a cavernous splash of yellow that dives deep into a wall and leaves us grasping for a means to take it in. The curve of its shape makes it impossible to tell how deep it goes, and the result is something you just have to stare at and enjoy.

Heart of the exhibition is the powerful Svayambh (2007), taking up five galleries at the RA. A massive block of red wax chugs slowly along tracks, oozing through the Academy’s white and gilt doorways, leaving a sticky residue behind. The title comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘self-generated’. It is bizarre, fascinating and mystifying all at the same time.

And the same red wax becomes a weapon in Shooting into the Corner (2008-9), as cannon fires 20lb plugs of the material at 50mph through another doorway and against a wall. Some 30 tons will be fired through the exhibition. Described by RA chiefs as a “psycho drama”, there is a real tension as we wait for the plug to be fired, supervised by a black boiler-suited assistant. There is something visceral and disturbing that we share in here, and the experience is strangely engrossing.

For those who don’t ‘get’ modern art and sculpture, Kapoor’s work may not make much sense. But maybe that’s because it shouldn’t be approached as a puzzle which needs to be solved, rather than created works that evoke a response or cause us to think.

You may respond or think differently to me. But you should go – it’s exciting stuff.

Tickets are £12, bookable at www.royalacademy.org.uk or on 0844 209 1919

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Owed to Les Paul 13.08.09

So
farewell Les Paul.
The genius
behind the electric guitar.
The guitarist’s guitarist
The axeman’s godfather
The ultimate
guitar hero.
The man who asked:
what happens
if I wire this up?
And plug this
in here?
And turn it up?
And what did happen
was the twang
and the riff
and the power chord
and the razor sharp
note cleaving the heavens
and ending up nailed
to your guts …
The sustain
and the gain
and the sweet pain
as the highly strung
plugged in
turned up
and engineered
a slice of soul-tugging
heart-twisting melody
That charmed the birds from the skies
Appliqued them together with gossamer harmony
Set them free to soar on dizzying runs
Before machine-gunning them in mid flight
with 12-bar heat-seeking tracer fire
That left a firework imprint on eternity.
Until one of the strings broke.

You never knew what you’d started, Les.
You really deserved a better name.

Take it to the bridge
in the key of genius.

13 August 2009
Upon the death of Les Paul, 94

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Popocatépetl

Popocatépetl

This a sound poem which plays with the sound of words and revels in the responses and rhythms they stir up. At the end it features actions which only work in live performance, rather than on the printed page.

NB Popocatépetl is the second highest mountain in Mexico, and an active volcano

Popo cate petl
Poppa cata petal
Pot a cat a petal
Pot a cap a petal
Pot a cup a petal
Pot a cup a petrol
Pocahontas?
Peccadillo?
Pick a pocket or two?
No!!

Pop a pack a kettle
Pop a plaque a kettle
Pop a plaque – and pedal!
Pitter patter?
Paparazzi?
Pluck a pepperoni Nazi?
No!!!

Hippo pota ricotta pepper
Stock a flock a mocha chocca
Tic a tac a picker nicker
Not a battered tipple
Blot n scat n stipple
Pop!
A cat!
A petal …

22 July 2009

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Brandon Cummerbund’s Love Poems – No 7

Tremulous, she was
quite tremulous
But with a right hook
like a pheasant

I loved her dearly
Very very dearly
In fact, so dearly that I was left
destitute
But entranced

Her eyes were like
limpet pools
Pools – full of limpets
Her arms – there were two, as I recall,
One on each side,
Were milky white
White
Like milk

And her hair!
Her hair was
everywhere
I could have bathed in it
Except it was hair, and not water

To me, she shimmered
Particularly after the fifth glass
Her figure was full of curves
It was curved – in all the right places
In all the places, in fact
She undulated like …
she had always undulated.
I believe she learned it in the Far East.

When we first met, she elbowed me in the stomach
Immediately, I felt a connection
She took the wind out of my sails
Although I wasn’t in a boat at the time
And she left me all at sea
Clutching a bag
Of fish

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Lawyer Lee

Lee

was a lawyer

Who did

no wrong.

Allegedly.

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The shortest poem I ever wrote

The shortest poem I ever wrote

It had no rhyme

Nor reason

As you have

deduced

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Attention span

Unfortunately

I have

an extremely

short

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Workshop

‘I’d rather be a hammer
than a nail’
goes the song
Although many of us
may feel that we are
neither the hammer
nor the nail,
but the piece of wood
on the end of it all.

And some of us
have been nailed so much
we are now full of holes
and have forgotten
what we are meant
to be.

Splintered and battered
we career from one
moment to the next,
surprised by time
which rarely waits for us
and often arrives
all at once.

Yet it may be
that we are in fact
works of art
being shaped by
an imaginative sculptor
who knows what we are
to end up as
and is prepared to
chip
chisel
plane
hammer
and shave off
our roughness
and inhumanity
until we resemble
who we were
created to be.

The hammer
and the nail
play their part
but only the wood
can become the
finished article.

One day I will be whole
and no
longer
full
of
them

2 June 2009 (in the Sally Army cafe, London)

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Trio of Sussex poets produce first collection

Trio of Sussex poets produce first collection

Three Worthing writers and poets have joined forces to produce their first poetry collection.

Three Sussex Poets, published by White Door Press, features Russ Bravo,

Our moody publicty shot on Worthing beach. From left: Russ, Steve and Martin

Our moody publicty shot on Worthing beach. From left: Russ, Steve and Martin

Steve Carroll and Martin Collins, with each contributing a range of poems from their repertoire.

With styles ranging from passionate, political and polemical via spiritual, thoughtful and emotionally charged, through to surreal, witty and traditional British nonsense, there is something for everyone.

“We’d been friends for a number of years, performing here and there in pubs, clubs and festivals, and so the idea of Three Sussex Poets was a natural progression for us,” explains Russ Bravo, who is a journalist working for publishers CPO, and also runs Matt’s Comedy Club, which runs regular nights at The Dome’s Function Suite.

Steve Carroll, who designed the book, runs his own graphic design business and is the author of the Riddler’s Fayre fantasy graphic novel series, while Martin Collins, a former photographer with the Worthing Herald, also works for CPO and has poems published in range of collections over the years.

The collection is officially launched on Saturday 23 May with a live performance event at Waterstone’s, Worthing at 2.30pm. Admission is free, everyone’s welcome and signed books will be available.

Three Sussex Poets is available, cost £5 from Waterstones, Worthing, UK or from this blog. Comment to order one – and leave your email address!

Russ and Steve will also be appearing at Roundabout Poetry at Worthing Library on Friday 5 June at 12 noon.

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C list pop star goes to the airport

Gotta go to Gatwick
I dunno which hat to pick
I don’t wanna look too slick
My public image is elastic
My face is mostly plastic
My attitude bombastic
If the paparazzi pop around me
I’ll look fantastic
Until I lose it trying to cruise it
Easy to excuse it, come too close
and I’ll bruise ya
Or sue ya

I wanna be recognised
But not categorised
I extemporise, I’m not pasteurised
I might sign your luggage
But I won’t engage in huggage
It’s not my style
My style is unique and casually
oblique
I wear trousers that creak
I buy two pairs a week
And my boots are so sleek
you can see my face in them

I’ve gotta keep travellin’
Although my life is unravellin’
You might hear me complainin’
That my star is wanin’
And I wish you’d scream at me
Instead of saying
‘Who did he used to be?’

Maybe I’ll go into TV
Find some show with reality
Where I can pretend to be
The me I have been manufactured
to be
I may be able to strike a pose
And hope that my humanity shows
but not my waistline

I could lend my name to a cause
If they’re clutchin’ at straws
‘Cos you can’t be a rebel without applause
It’s been so long since I did an encore
As only my mum is askin’ for more
Like the baggage carousel, I will keep
going round until
someone
claims
me

28 April 2009 (on a train from Gatwick Airport)

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The Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund Pt 2

Pocket handkerchief crisis. Government step in. World leaders confer. Cook finds it in saucepan. Today’s biscuit: Bourbon. Breakfast: banana

Scrimshaw, beard crimper and toast buffer Brandon Cummerbund

Scrimshaw, beard crimper and toast buffer Brandon Cummerbund

Some days I mourn the decreasing use of tongs. Pulled a muscle attempting to fold the Telegraph. Cheese of the day: Gouda. Learning to yodel

Guildhall function last night. Bassoon playing gave me a headache. Or might have been the spritzers. Beverage: soda. Breakfast: parsley

And why should quoits should not be an Olympic sport? Mongoose snaffles chops. Mildew is as mildew does. Dog of the day: boxer. Pong: sewer

Today’s lesson: Tumble-drying is best done by a machine. Think the hip will recover. Chum of mine: Tolly Snitchplunger. Breakfast: quail.

A study of knots has much to commend it. If fell walking is a description rather than a pursuit, stick to taxis. Wind: SE. Breakfast: scones

Chum of mine: Ticktock Strangely – surrealist watch repairer. Never give a croissant an even break. Paint of the day: country meadow. Hoorah

Gad! Birthday imminent. Dinner party planned: pheasant, rosti, wobbly jelly, gin fizz. Assorted loons descending for carousing. Aunt banned.

Swift daquiri to mark the splendid day. Cook making an architrave of blancmange. Mrs C fussing over embroidery. Luncheon with poetical chums

Precipitation appears to be ongoing. Twanged nerve in right shoulder blade. Hot Cross Bun imminent. Breakfast: archipelago of swan, toast

A gentleman foregoes fish gutting in the presence of a lady. Chum of mine: Bishop Rev Dr Waltzing Mebuilder. Tea: cod. Brolly weather. Parp!

Hair oil goes missing. Cod liver oil sandwiches. Suspicious. Cook looks sanguine. Mongoose avoids my gaze. No breakfast. Gargling ticketyboo

Creaky knees. Twingey back. Cheesy buns. Dew on grass. Bicycle in shed. Mongoose in disgrace. Cook on a roll. Sausage roll. Brandon on banjo

Joyous Easter shennigans. Chocolatier excels himself. Cook beside herself. Mongoose reprieved. Boot boy sticky. Church: I should cocoa. Yip!

Malingering Monday. Leftovers to eat. Cook day off. Mongoose to have bath. Hatches battened down. Pig in aviary. Mrs C after it with broom.

Toaster back off holidays. Plan to get my spats ironed. Chum of mine: Voluminous Twig, freelance aborealist. Breakfast: kippers, plum torte

Overslept. Or underwoke. Must have been the tonic. Mrs C beating carpets. Cook beating egg. Mongoose beating next door’s cat. Happy days

Eeni, meeni, mynee, mo. Except on Thursdays, when a large spatchcock will suffice. I sense a marmalade on toast moment. Socks inside out.

Taking Mrs C to the theatre. Mongoose left in charge with strict orders to repel all callers, particularly mad aunts. Cravat: Old Yeoman.

Splendid night at theatre. Mongoose strangely quiet on our return. Something’s afoot. 1.30 at Fontwell: Jagger’s Mangle. Hat of day: trilby

Perambulation is the mother-in-law of bus strikes. Note it well. Chum of mine: Timbuktalulah Boomdeyay, society golddigger. Breakfast: toast

No milk. Cow sacked. Chicken worried. Cook beside herself. Good trick if you can do it. Chum of mine: Len ‘Thwack’ Bungeeclamp. Food: yams.

Ironmongery can delight the soul. A specially curved fork is wonder to behold. Chum of mine: somnambulent twitcher Snooze the Tickwarbler

Splendid day for a tootle round the local park on the wheeled steed. Mrs C heading to shops. Cook off to medicine cabinet. Breakfast: pawpaw

No shoes in house. Boot boy has sold them. Boot boy sacked. Mrs C recommends thick socks. Game of the day: hopscotch. Breakfast: spiced ham

Beware the toffee hammer. It may be small, but foolish is the man who underestimates it. Go placidly amidst the stuff and things. Tally-ho!

I used to think stubble-burning a kind of extreme sport version of shaving. Some days I mourn the decreasing use of inkwells. Jam: kumquat

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The Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund

Cummerbundery – or the first month’s witterings from CummerbundEsq

Good morrow gentlemen and ladies, it is my delight to join you in this brave

Brandon Cummerbund: sage, gargler, wit and gastronome

Brandon Cummerbund: sage, gargler, wit and gastronome

odyssey. I shall be furnishing you with Cummerbundery daily …

Toast has its uses in hand to hand combat. Chum of mine: Mangrove van Flagbutterer – well meaning Dutch philanthropist. Breakfast: kedgeree

Just stalked some asparagus with me blunderbuss. Winged the blighter. The old rugger injury playing up. Mrs Cummerbund promises fig poultice

Bats in the cellar again. Sent Little Shitzu in. Chum of mine: Nodulous Quango-Chainsaw, mad as a tweed sandwich. Breakfast: anchovy mash

Shaver caught me beard this morning. Sacked the blighter, y’just can’t get the staff. Chum of mine: Leggy Tonguebuttress. Breakfast: kidneys

Gad, the shrapnel’s giving me gip. Could be the turbot from lunch, mind. Must grill the cook. Try Silly Me in the 2.30 at Kempton Park.

Locked in the scullery again by Mrs C. Dashed if I can work her out. Chum of mine: Tingling Parp, trombone for hire. Breakfast: poached egg

Discovered fishing rod and large brandy uneasy companions. Suffice to say no charges being pressed. Took mashie niblick to get slice repair

Practiced me gargling this morning. Improving. Chum of mine: toff conman Lord Quicksand Stuntly. Breakfast: porridge and glazed walnuts

Discovered butterscotch has little to do with a slab of Irish best and a bottle of Glenfiddich. Pity. Flutter: Arbroath 4 Forfar 5. Tea: cod

Cummerbund’s patent sleep recipe: two olives, a pickle, oats and a ding on the back of the head with a bedpan. Sheep counted: 97. Baah!

Soup of the day: Mulligatawney. Today’s limerick: There was a young fella called Bob. In the laundry: spats. Chum of mine: Wokwok Tahoomey

Fell asleep in stamp collection last night. Woke in small hours with Penny Red stuck to nose. Today’s poet: Milton. Breakfast: liver & bacon

Lost shirt on a horse today. Bally thing had hidden in the wardrobe. Considering buying tandem. Or a mongoose. Lucky cravat: paisley, silk

Constitutional amidst wheeling seagulls post-lunch. Kiteflyers on greensward have wheels attached. Most peculiar. Hat: straw. Shoes: brogues

Coal scuttle full of owls this morning. Must reprimand coal man. Fog outside, possible pea-souper. Today’s socks: Wolseley. Breakfast: bran

Jalope behaves itself as soon as stout mechanic looks at it. Typical. Can’t find cigar cutter. Must be his day off. Potato: Maris Piper

Aged aunt coming to stay. Attempts to book holiday in Folkestone have failed. Mongoose acquired, named Wilf. Cheese: Red Leicester. Tea: hot

Boots back from menders. Mrs C back from Boots. Valet gone to sea. Everything else tickety boo. Chum of mine: Abstemious Grout. Tea: saveloy

Practiced with Indian clubs in the conservatory. Hodgson says glazier can fix panes tomorrow. First rabbit of spring delicious in stew m’lud

The reviving qualities of cucumber dare not be underestimated. Chum of mine: Muggely Pooterstick, itinerant sweep. Breakfast: fruit compost

Quail in the attic or cower in the cellar? Hard choice. In for the laundry: garters. Chum of mine: seaside gangster Arividerci Clacton. Pah!

Need to get gardener in to trim the hollyhocks. Horse left compost in wrong place (still steaming). Lost fiver. Practiced tenor. Sneezed x 3

Taking aunt to Hampton Court. Plan to lose ‘er in maze. Need to stalk deer but have lost deerstalker. Coffee: Camp. Breakfast: bubble n sqwk

Hampton Court called to say have located aunt. Had to send chum with tranquiliser gun. Where can you buy decent tongs these days? Supper:egg

Mrs C birthday. Children constructing wobbly jelly for the entertainment later. Polished me blunderbuss. Fed the aunt. Breakfast: pancakes

Splendid day of sterling hymns, Far Eastern nourishment and seaside perambulation. Chum of mine: Glazeme Senseless. Cake of day: Battenberg

MPs’ expenses brouhaha. Have to get mine past Mrs C. Not easy. Aunt escapes via catflap, recaptured by paperboy. Breakfast: lobster fritters

Time waits for no man. The No 37 sometimes does. Aunt escapes in flat cap. Next door’s sheepdog brings her in. Dessert song: Eton trifles

O sole mio!! Except in Grimsby. Bats in the wardrobe this morning. Cricket bats. Linseed oil on order. Chum of mine: Moo Flip. Brekkie: Pate

Shooting stick went off in the pantry. Cook needed smelling salts. Played water polo at the baths. Damn mints hard to catch. Breakfast: bran

Dog escaped with leg of lamb. Aunt escaped with wobbly jelly. Mrs C wrote sonnet. Arividerci left contraband cornets. Late supper: chops

Discovered unusual crease in plus fours. Son says I’m losing my edge. Cheeky scamp. Off to polish cufflinks. Spread: gentlemen’s relish

Aunt sent back to Little Wotherington, guarded by gardener with toasting fork. Toaster back off holiday now using gardening fork. Tea: Egray

Terrible wind yesterday. Pedestrians walking sideways. Definitely better in than out. Marmalade of the day: Chivers Olde English. Muffins.

Fusty Montgomery borrowed putter. Twigs in the marmalade. Mrs C went shopping. Staff nervous. Eggs overcooked. Monkey of the day: gibbon.

I left my heart at Clapham Junction. It was in a small paper bag, along with a sausage roll. Kindly return it if you find it. Breakfast: egg

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The car won’t start

It might as well be a horse and cart
I’m stuck in limbo
The car won’t start

It’s all in good order – except for one part
I’m motion-less
The car won’t start

The heroes in yellow, they’re on their way
The AA are coming … sometime today
I daresay there’ll be a sharp intake of breath
I need a mechanical miracle: life brought from death

It might as well be a horse and cart
I’m stuck in limbo
The car won’t start

Oh for the days when a prod with a stick
Would make my Fiat’s motor tick
It sounded like a hairdryer on wheels
But it got me there all right.

There’s a lot to be said for a horse and cart.

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Passengers

This was written on one of many train journeys to London recently, as twilight and dusk segued into night …

On your way to another life
I have brushed you with prayer
That may yet seep into unexpected places
And leave traces of God
Where there was none before
Glimpses of silver rain
across the womb of the March night
Seeds of expectation
Yielding fields of hope
and a harvest
to come

Big city, bright lights
Empty carriage
Time in reverse
Seafront palisaded bridge lights
Drifting into the terminus
with a glide of completion.
One journey ends
Another begins

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Lent – still on course … just

It is a debateable point

Whether the croissant is bread or cake

I maintain its bready consistency allows it to fall the side of the line

I would hope for

Its Gallic charm says ‘Eat me’

And it’s the yeast I can do

As for the biscuit, it has not sullied my lips

Although chocolate, I confess, has.

For medicinal purposes.

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Lent Days 2 & 3

I am still on the wagon

Cake and biscuit-wise

The knack I have discovered

Is not to feast the eyes

Upon the sweet and sticky stuff

To fill up with the fruit, and leave quick

In a huff.

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Lent 2009: day 1

Decided to give up biscuits and cake for Lent.

A crazy idea most likely undeliverable but well meant

Almost succumbed to a plain chocolate digestive

Resisted and thought of England

Updates may be found here, if I’m not too bitter;

On the book of Face, or maybe on Twitter

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Alien plant horror musical – bloomin’ marvellous

Brighton Theatre Royal – Little Shop of Horrors

While not by any means a sell-out, it was a hugely enthusiastic crowd that welcomed Little Shop of Horrors to the Theatre Royal on Monday.

The tongue-in-cheek musical based on Roger Corman’s classic 1959 B-movie

Audrey and Seymour in action

Audrey and Seymour in action

certainly delivered a high quality evening’s entertainment, with a stack of class performances from its talented cast.

A lovely period set got everyone in the mood, as hobos and street girls established the vibe for Skid Row, and the superbly voiced Ronettes (Nadia Di Mambro, Cathryn Davis and Donna Hines) kicked proceedings off.

The trio’s powerful voices, superb harmonies and street-wise persona were one of the highlights of the evening.

Former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy put in a delightful character performance as Mushnik, failing owner of the Skid Row flower shop, and while his voice was often no more than adequate, he more than made up for it with his timing and stagecraft.

Clare Buckfield, star of Dancing on Ice and best known for her role in 2Point4 Children, was excellent as blonde bombshell Audrey, flower shop worker and abused girlfriend of sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello (Alex Ferns). She had a strong singing voice and brought real presence to the role.

Damian Humbley did a great job as Seymour, the downtrodden shop lad who discovers an alien plant he christens Audrey II as a tribute to the object of his affections. My only quibble with him was that he didn’t really look geeky enough to play the Seymour part, but I guess no-one’s likely to match the Rick Moranis geek look.

Alex Ferns was superb as the pain-loving dentist Orin Scrivello – although it’s such a peach of a part you wonder who wouldn’t relish playing it – and also gets the chance to deliver some quick-change character parts later in the piece as the plant’s fame grows as fast as its hunger.

Audrey II was voiced powerfully by Clive Rowe – fantastic singing voice – and his pupeteers Andy Heath, Brian Herring and Iestyn Evans deserve special mention as the alient plant grows to take over the stage in monstrous style.

Fantastic music from the band, and a lovely revolving set added to the show and left the audience clapping along with the theme song at the end.

This is a superb production that deserves packed audiences – don’t miss it!

Go HERE for tickets

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Fantastic skies over Worthing 11.11.10

Sky was so jaw-droppingly beautiful today I just had to pull over and take some photos. Glimpses of the Creator’s awesome Creation. Best my first gen iPhone could do, but you get the idea …

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